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Singing in Physical and Virtual Environments: How Performers Adapt to Room Acoustical Conditions

This study has investigated to what extent and how trained singers adapt to the room acoustic conditions in physical and in virtual acoustic environments. In a first phase, two musical pieces were recorded for four singers in eight different performance venues by means of a near-field microphone. Binaural room impulse responses were recorded by mean of a dummy head together with a directional loudspeaker placed together on a rotating plate, at the position of the singer on stage. In a second phase, the first experiment was replicated in the anechoic chamber, using an interactive auralization provided by dynamic binaural synthesis of the same performances venues, i.e., the singers could hear their own voice in the virtual room while singing the same pieces using real-time convolution and head tracking. The 128 recordings made in the physical and virtual rooms were analyzed in terms of audio features related to tempo, loudness, and timbre of the musical performance. The impact of the room acoustical conditions, as described by established room acoustical parameters, on these performances was analysed by linear regression. The results show rather individual patterns of adaptation, depending on the musical piece and the musical performer. The same interactions between room acoustics and musical performance, however, both in direction and in strength, could be observed in the physical and virtual environment. This seems to indicate the suitability of virtual acoustic environments to investigate musical tasks, not only for music listeners, but also for musical performers and the interaction with their acoustic environment.

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